As usual, butchering Tightwad’s style of analysis. Forgive me.
Quarterback: C+. Watching Longshore in person for the first time…I feel pretty bad for him, especially getting those scattered boos. That ankle might be closer to healed than it’s ever been, but right now he’s not throwing the deep ball with much confidence. That pick was definitely underthrown, and he compensated by overthrowing most of the longballs the rest of the way.
Nevertheless, anything from the line of scrimmage to about 15 yards was within his means, and there was even distribution between receivers. But the offense had an uneven feel to it, and that filters back to QB play.
Running backs: B-. Would have been a C- before Forsett’s 44 yard TD scamper. It was utterly depressing to see Wazzu’s tepid run D (8th in the Pac-10) completely clamp down on the running game, with Justin hunkering for barely over 2 yards a carry. That fumble at the goal-line (coupled with the earlier bad snap) was certainly costly, as the Bears lost the turnover battle for the fourth straight week. Montgomery was a statue on his one carry. I’m very worried about our running situation next year if he’s the primary ball carrier. Best showed spark on the carries he had.
Receivers: B-. Hawkins had a few drops when he tried to bodycatch and turn upfield rather than hauling it in, but still had a great game (9 catches, 87 yards, plus the onside kick recovery). Jackson, Jordan and Stevens all got their touches. I have to admit though, I’m pretty amused at how many horizontal yards this team has hypothetically gained. Add that in and it’s probably 600 yards a game.
People might recognize my laxness in posting of late. I assure you if Cal takes care of business Saturday night, they will grow more frequent by next week. I’m not neglecting this on purpose, but some detoxing from Cal football is just plain healthy after the worst October in half a decade.
As usual, the preview for our school comes from the messageboard of choice, this time being CougFan up at Washington State. Coming off a dominating beatdown of UCLA, the Cougars look to keep their faint bowl hopes alive. Your preview starts here and goes through the jump. Consider this an open thread for the game.
Wazzu has had a great deal of success at Pullman (3-1 at home, the one loss being a 3 point defeat to ASU) as opposed to the road (0-4, closest loss by 3 TDs). Even last year I remember the Bears having to struggle to get out with a win. How do you explain the vast disparity in performance?
Young defense, I suppose. Having been at all the games this year at Martin Stadium, I think the defense feeds off the crowd noise (which they don’t get on the road). We are most inexperienced in the secondary.
I think it’s the energy from the crowd and the fact we haven’t played many games in Pullman so far this year. That and the fact that other teams don’t seem to like making the trip up to the Palouse. See UCLA’s whining in the LA Times.
I don’t think you’ll find a good explanation for this aside from the simple fact that we happened to play teams with less complex offenses and immobile QBs at home, but teams like Oregon on the road. plus most of our home games against serious opponents have come recently, and our young defense is starting to improve in general.
Is Bill Doba as good as gone after the year’s over? Do you want him gone?
Agree/disagree with any of the assessments?
Took me awhile to re-construct this chaos. After the most uneventful week of the year with high powered matchups (and no major upsets outside of UConn), we’re back to some good ol’ fashioned scrumfests. Two huge battles for conference supremacy will be the highlights, with the rest slowly falling by the wayside. As a college football fan I’m very much interested, but excuse me if I’m not entirely enthused.
(As for the Cal game, I’m completely unenthused. It’ll go until late at night, which means it’ll be freezing by the end–perfect conditions for the Wazzu players. I guess not going would make me a bandwagoner, but outside of a 41-3 beatdown, no result in this game would be terribly impressive. I’m sure there will be lots of empty seats when I’m hunkering in the Blue Zone Saturday.)
All times are PST.
The Big Kahunas
#6 ASU at #4 Oregon, 3:40, ESPN. My how the times have changed. Fast offense versus fast defense. Young offense versus uneven defense. So much for the conventional Pac-10. Both of these teams will probably be playing in January again, barring massive collapse.
WARNING: Do not consider the victor of this game master of the Pac-10. Oregon always struggles against OSU (and the Beavers match up favorably this year), and a dangerous roadtrip to Arizona and UCLA looms in between. ASU has an easier road, but winning in the Rose Bowl will be no picnic, and USC at home remains.
#3 LSU at #17 Alabama, 2:00, CBS. Nick Saban Bowl. Didn’t you hear? The winner has the inside track to the BCS; the loser can start looking for hotels in upstate Florida. Les Miles now faces a competent coach with competent talent. Alabama definitely has the one thing you can exploit in the LSU –strong quarterback and deep receiving talent.
The Sideshow Mels.
Vanderbilt at #18 Florida, 9:30 AM, Lincoln Financial whatever online. Only decent-looking game in a disgusting opening slate. Although there’s a good chance it could be another one of those 52-7 Swamp slaughters.
#23 South Carolina at Arkansas, 5:00, ESPN. Darren McFadden versus a porous South Carolina rushing D. Let’s see how Houston Nutt screws this one up.
For the Pac-10 homers.
UCLA at Arizona, 12:30, ABC. This will be a battle in futility.
UW at Stanford, 3:30, FSN. A rare day that you’ll get to see all five Pac-10 matchups. It’s the Jake Locker Memorial Tour! Considering the shittiness of this Husky D, there could be all sorts of offensive records broken when they go to Hawaii December 1st. I’m more excited for that game than the Big Game. And Stanford is horrifyingly right behind us in the Pac-10. Come on Cal, can you use that as extra motivation?
Oregon State at #13 USC, 5:00, ABC. I kind of hope USC wins, because then we can expose them as frauds again next week. Or we could get beatdown and our collapse would be penultimate. A USC freefall before our diminished matchup would also be delightful though.
Upsets happen all the time.
#11 Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, 5 PM. Poor Hokies. I have to admit, when I saw them start to rush 3 and go into prevent D, I saw the collapse coming. But it ruined my night, it ruined my week. Let’s move on.
Wisconsin at #1 Ohio State, 9 AM, BTN. Just for the record, this will probably be a beatdown.
#15 Michigan at Michigan State, 12:30 PM. The very thought of Michigan winning out and getting back to the Rose Bowl makes your heart warm, but couple that with the thought of Hawaii knocking out a Pac-10 team and you start to feel very nauseated.
Missouri at Colorado, 3:30 PM, FSN. This team will be much happier getting on the bus out of Boulder than off it coming in. No one ever likes playing here.
FSU at #2 BC, 5 PM. Poor Kirk. He has to fly all the way from the big showdown in Eugene to watch this crapfest. But we’re about due for the yearly Bobby Bowden upset special. Tomahawk chop! Tomahawk chop! Come on hickbillies.
In case you have nothing else to watch.
Purdue at Penn State, 9 AM, ESPN.
Iowa at Northwestern, 9 AM, ESPN2.
Nebraska at #11 Kansas, 9:30 AM, FSN.
Kansas State at Iowa State, 9:30 AM, Versus.
Fucking Pac-10. How the hell does this abominable slate get on national TV while we get stuck to local coverage? Are you seriously considering the market share of volleyball when you make these idiotic decisions? No wonder the rest of the country has trouble taking West Coast football seriously.
Navy at Notre Dame, 11:30 AM, NBC. Best year ever for Navy to end that streak of futility against the awful Irish.
Let’s get that straight. And at least Stanford attempted to tackle. And they at least kept on sweeping forward right rather than going back, up, down and about. And despite the similarity of the playcalls, Starkey’s joy was not of the “break out the Oreos baby” ilk.
Still, great play. Not the greatest ever, but fun, especially for a D-III game.
If there’s any consolation about this past weekend…no one else in California is cheering either. In fact, the metaphor of last week’s wildfires can certainly apply to all of California, as our rivals too fell into the flames.
USC? Finished! The walls have crumbled! Falls to Oregon 24-17, who ultimately beat themselves more than Oregon did. Three second-half turnovers doomed USC, who seem to have a great deal of trouble throwing to their team. Doesn’t look like Sanchez is the answer to the Trojans, who are reeling; one more loss on their schedule likely sends them packing to Vegas. The Pac-10 now is down to one title contender (ASU), one BCS hopeful (Oregon) and three dark horses (OSU, UCLA, USC). Mark down Saturday’s ASU-Oregon game as the one to watch. Conquest Chronicles isn’t thrilled with Pete Carroll.
UCLA? Broken to bits by the average Wazzu O-Line and Dwight “Never been” Tardy, who had 214 yards and 2 TDs (84.5 yards per game prior to this one). UCLA has now averaged 37.2 points in victory and 6.7 points in defeat. They finish up with Arizona State, Oregon and USC, and I’m sure they’ll beat two of them. They also play Arizona next week, where I’m sure they will get obliterated. Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Karl Dorrell football! Third tier bowl appearances or your money back. Bruins Nation is…uhh, well…just see for yourself.
The Furd? DOWN! Crushed by Oregon State 23-6. The Beavers run D continues to impress, giving up 5 ground yards to Stanford. Oregon State looks to put the final coffin in Troy next week, heading down to the Coliseum to finish off a reeling Trojan team. The bad news is Stanford has three winnable games (at Wazzu, Washington, Notre Dame) before the Big Game (and they certainly have a fighting chance against us this year), which would make them *gulp* bowl-eligible. Not a pleasant thought.
So we get to all laugh at each other, like four kids who got their bikes stolen. Wait a minute, that isn’t funny at all.
Let’s look elsewhere around the country.
What’s the cutest opponent to lose to? Vote in the sidebar.
Or the closest thing I could find to a sun devil, the kangaroo rat?
I was only 7 years old, beginning my descent into perpetual sports agony. My Buffalo Bills were making their last Super Bowl appearance, and they were certain underdogs against a Dallas Cowboys team that ravaged them a year ago. Nevertheless, they rallied together for an inspired thirty minutes of football, taking a 13-6 lead and giving their jaded fans reason to hope.
But thirty minutes was all they had. The defense of the Cowboys slowly broke down the offense part by part, stopped the run, and shut out the Bills in the second half. The turning point? Emmitt Smith parting the Bills defense on a 15 yard TD go-ahead run that collectively let the air out of everyone watching the game. And we knew it was over.
I’m not about to compare Keegan Herring and Dmitri Nance to Emmitt Smith, but you have to admit that 4th and 1 play to put the Sun Devils ahead was the tipping point. The offense started fouling up, the defense began gasping for air, and you began to realize that this was the end of the illusion. That we were the benefit of a soft schedule and 4 turnovers in Autzen, and that #1 wasn’t ours to have at all.
And you begin to rationalize that it can always be worse. You could be UCLA fans, who have had the enthusiasm of every win drained out of them because they know they’ll falter to someone like Wazzu or Notre Dame. You could be USC fans, who are staring at the ghastly notion of a Sun Bowl and can’t even begin to fathom not playing in a BCS game. You could be Stanford fans, who are just happy to win one every now and then. I think in the state of California, we’re still the happiest Pac-10 fanbase around. It just makes the eventual climb to the summit all the more glorious. Every victory will be treasured that much more.
So there are a few modest goals left in this season. Beatdown Wazzu. Deal the final blow to a reeling ‘SC squad. Win in Seattle. Retain the Axe. All of these goals are attainable. And I’m sure after the tears are shed and the angst recedes, we’ll come back to this warm conclusion:
No matter what, we’ll always love our Bears.
Onto the report card (for those who love sunny optimism, you can skip the rest).
Quarterback: D. Look, I really like Longshore. I admire his effort and heart, playing on a gimpy leg for much of the night, and he did as much as he could before the ASU pass rush tightened, including displaying his best deep throw of the year. But I can’t ignore the facts. After a moderate start, his game descended into a shitshow. Even when he wasn’t under duress, his throws were grabass. He overthrew the deep and fade routes much of the game, and then those two game-breaking INTs in the 4th were definitely underthrown. That ankle is hurting him. If he keeps performing this way, he needs to sit down.
Running backs: C+. There were flashes from Forsett, who had some solid runs. But it’s hard to judge because he got so few touches, which was puzzling because we were doing pretty well with the run schemes. Not great, good. The tendency to pass a lot was puzzling, considering Tedford’s loyalty to the ground game a week ago. Jahvid Best was used sparingly.
Okay, here’s the deal. There will be a stream available Saturday night, but only for part of the game. Cal-Arizona State’s starting at 10:00 (kickoff at 8), but the person who will be streaming this game is also streaming Ohio State-Penn State, which will likely be in the 3rd quarter when the Bears and Devils kick off. So you’ll probably only get to start watching near or after halftime. That’s as good as you’re going to get it.You must go to this site to find the link for the stream (and a few other games of interest–although not USC-Oregon, sorry, better hope for the torrent.)–it should be up at some point tomorrow, and general directions can be found here. Again, you must have Sopcast to stream this game.
That being said, once you click the link, do not bitch and moan if Ohio State-Penn State is a blowout and they’re not switching over. You will only piss off the moderators/streamers (who are doing this for free, and have been touchy about requests lately) and you might not get Cal-ASU at all–you can read that first post to realize that being whiny will not get you anywhere. Be respectful and patient and you should hopefully catch the latter part of the 1st half and definitely the entire 2nd half without a hitch. Good luck, hope it works out.
I usually do previews with the opposing fans for Cal’s upcoming game on their respective message boards (if you want to see a sample or two, click here for the Vols, Rams, Bulldogs, Wildcats, Ducks, and Beavers). You might have noticed I passed on UCLA last week, partly because I was ill, partly because I generally cannot stand the humorless, elitist condescension of those Bruins fans, (although mostly because I was shellshocked).
I have much nicer things to say about the undefeated Sun Devils (a generally affable group just happy to be out of the reach of Dirk Koetter), from their people to their parties to their fine ladystock (NSFW), so here ya go, straight from Devil’s Digest.
How important is Arizona State’s 7-0 start? What have you learned about Dennis Erickson that stands in contrast to the underachieving Dirk Koetter’s squads?
ASU’s 7-0 start is very important – it has instilled confidence in the team and that is what DE has done great. He makes the team believe and builds confidence, something lacking with Dirk. Overall you see him give more praise to players in general than you saw with Dirk.
The fast start is critical in that it made the transition from DK to DE quick and seamless. The team is/has bought into DE’s coaching style and is playing fast and loose. They are actually having fun playing football! Underachieving personifies DK’s teams. We’d get lead on the SC’s and LSU’s and the coaches would find a way to lose. I have a feeling DE and his staff will not do that. Perhaps the most important thing I have learned about DE is that his halftime adjustments are incredible. That was another aspect missing from DK’s staff.
Your team has fallen behind early a lot, yet come back with overpowering force in the 2nd half. What can you attribute this to? Do you just wear out inferior opposition or are you just a strong 2nd half team?